How Michael Massey has helped fuel the KC Royals

Kansas City's second baseman is a force at the plate.
Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The KC Royals have had one of the best offenses in baseball in May. There were signs that the team could surge at the plate, but leading the American League in runs scored through Saturday was unexpected. Several Royals have performed better in recent weeks, but Michael Massey, whose short-term status is a bit unclear after he suffered lower back tightness against Tampa Bay Friday, might be one of the most fascinating.

After plenty of offseason discussion and concern about his role and potential, Massey has proven capable of succeeding with an aggressive mindset. He chases more than nearly any hitter in the league, according to Baseball Savant (the source for all statistics cited in this story), but with an elite contact rate and minimizing strikeouts, he makes the approach work.

The peculiar part of Massey's approach is his extreme pull tendency. He struggled to a .229/.274/.319 line last season. Would his pull-heavy mindset lead to enough power to capitalize on his ability? It's worked out incredibly well so far this season — not only is he hitting more home runs per fly ball, but he's even cut down on his strikeouts in the process.

A new approach for Kansas City's Michael Massey

Massey's current numbers are impressive, and while they not be entirely sustainable, signify a crucial improvement in his game. As just one example, he's hitting .294 through May 25.

The most pronounced development comes from Massey's ability to hit breaking balls. After hitting just .197 against those pitches last season, he's hitting an astounding .375 against them in 2024.

Massey might be changing his approach to punish breaking balls more. He's swinging significantly less on the first pitch, dropping from 26.2% last season to 20.2% this year. Meanwhile, he's taking more first-pitch strikes. Is that because he's sitting breaking balls more often to avoid being beaten by those pitches? His overall swing rate against fastballs in the zone was 74.6% last year, but is down to 60.6% this season.

Massey's production has been a vital component of the Royals' recent success. If he can sustain this throughout the season, it will be clear why there has been so much excitement about his potential. The Royals want to prove they can fight for a playoff spot, and Massey will be an important factor in making that happen.

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